Nelson Airport Terminal Wins at the 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards

Studio Pacific is thrilled that the Nelson Airport Terminal was named a winner at the 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards.

Winners of the New Zealand Timber Design Awards were honoured and celebrated at a prestigious awards gala held at the Cordis Hotel in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland on Thursday 2 November.

The event, now in its 48th year, recognises and celebrates the engineers, architects, designers and builders who push boundaries and continue to champion nature’s greatest renewable building material – timber.

Supported by Timber Unlimited, the Timber Design Awards highlight the latest advances in New Zealand’s timber construction capability, proving that the degree of creativity and innovation in wood-based design is accelerating at pace.

“Now more than ever, it’s important we recognise and celebrate the engineers, architects, architectural designers and builders who push boundaries and embrace change by championing nature’s greatest building material, sourced from the country’s renewable, natural, resource-based forests,” explains Dr Robert Finch, Director of Timber Unlimited.

Convening judge David Carradine, a Senior Structural Research Engineer with BRANZ and frequent awards judge, confirmed that for him “there is no limit to what can be done with this material, especially combined with the advances in digital and manufacturing technologies that cater specifically to wood and engineered wood products.”

The other three judges were Jan Stanway, Technical Director for WSP in New Zealand; Andrea Stocchero, Senior Analyst, Sector and Bio-economy Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service; and Judith Taylor, current President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

In a joint submission by Studio Pacific ArchitectureDunning Thornton Consultants and Gibbons NaylorNelson Airport Terminal was named the winner of the Innovation Timber Engineering category. The category showcases engineering and construction innovation in maximising the ability to utilise timber in different ways and push forward with exciting and different solutions. The terminal was also awarded Highly Commended for the Supreme Award, with judges recognising “the seamless fusion of architecture, engineering and timber, [which] represents a global benchmark for timber architecture and engineering innovation.”


Judge's Citation - Highly Commended, Supreme Award

"Nelson Airport stands as a remarkable testament to the seamless fusion of architecture, engineering, and timber, serving as a compelling showcase for both New Zealand and the world. This awe-inspiring structure not only embodies the perfect harmony of these elements but also represents a global benchmark for timber architecture and engineering innovation. As visitors step inside, they are greeted by its inviting warmth and captivated by its breathtaking beauty, making it an iconic destination for travellers worldwide."


Judge's Citation - Winner, Innovation Timber Engineering Award

"The structural form and the architecture of this building are one. Simply put, it is brilliant. Timber is used throughout this exceptional project with a deep understanding of how to use and maximise the best attributes of the timber materials. The project shows that everything was chosen with a clear purpose, from the use of long-span cross banded Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) instead of ply to provide stiffness but reduce the number of joints, to the faceted roof diaphragm that provides an exceptional internal aesthetic but importantly maximises the planar strength of the roof."

The timber engineering innovations embodied within the Nelson Airport Terminal result in a strikingly beautiful and structurally efficient timber structure that both awes and inspires us with the potential of timber construction. The folded plate roof form synergistically enhances the building's structural performance by working seamlessly with the qualities of LVL.

The roof is supported by LVL columns coadiuvated by an innovative resilient friction slip joint to enable low-damage seismic performance. These advances in timber engineering are complemented by ingenious modular manufacturing and prefabrication on the airport premises, achieving rapid construction and improved health and safety outcomes."


Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou, congratulations to all the 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards finalists and winners, our client, collaborators, and project team.

Explore the winning projects on the NZ Timber Design Centre website.

Discover more about Nelson Airport Terminal.

Nelson Airport Terminal, designed by Studio Pacific Architecture, viewed from the airport tarmac.

Nelson Airport Terminal, designed by Studio Pacific Architecture, viewed from the airport tarmac.

The articulated timber ceiling of Nelson Airport Terminal

The articulated timber ceiling of Nelson Airport Terminal

Inside Nelson Airport Terminal

Inside Nelson Airport Terminal